New India-US partnership sends “jolt of momentum” to global climate deal

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The US and India have signalled their intent to “forge ahead” with climate action, driving the world closer towards meeting its landmark climate agreement. Meeting in Washington this week, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Barack Obama agreed to bring the Paris Agreement into effect as soon as possible, preferably this year, and strengthened commitments to phase down the supercharged climate pollutants used in refrigeration. They also agreed to make clean energy a priority, pledging $20 million in finance to help power up to 1 million Indian homes, along with another $40 million dollars for small-scale renewables in rural off-grid areas. While the two leaders offered little in the way of specifics for meeting these pledges, the joint commitment shows India and the US are on the same page when it comes to climate, and – together responsible for over 20 per cent of global emissions – it offers yet another “jolt of momentum” to international efforts towards a clean energy and climate-safe future.

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Key Points

  • Two of the most influential countries in the world are on the same page on climate. The US is the world’s second largest polluter, while India accounts for nearly 7 per cent of global emissions, and is expected to increase its share rapidly in coming years. This week’s meeting is the seventh between the two leaders since 2014, and by joining forces on climate they have shown their understanding that “long-term prosperity must be underpinned by a stable climate,” and sent another strong signal of countries’ collective commitment to meet its global climate agreement.
  • Bolstering renewables brings huge benefits to vulnerable communities. In India, close a quarter of the population still does not have access to electricity, and research shows that renewables offer a more affordable, practical and healthy solution to energy poverty, than their dirty counterparts like coal. By leapfrogging fossil fuels in favour of clean renewables, countries such as India, would be able to tackle widespread poverty without the harmful impacts to people’s health.
  • Now is the time for leaders to cement the climate legacies they etched out in Paris. With renewables booming, and fossil fuels caught in a death spiral, it is little wonder that government after government is lining up to reaffirm their commitment to climate action. Those leaders putting their best foot forward are already reaping the huge climate, health and economic benefits of the clean energy transition, while those countries, like Australia and Japan, who continue to obstruct progress in favour of out-dated fossil fuels are showing themselves to be increasingly out of touch with reality and losing clout on the international stage.

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  • “The United States and India share common climate and clean energy interests and are close partners in the fight against climate change. Leadership from both countries helped galvanize global action to combat climate change and culminated in the historic Paris Agreement reached last December. Both countries are committed to working together and with others to promote full implementation of the Paris Agreement to address the urgent threats posed by climate change.” – US President Barack Obama and India Prime Minister Narendra Modi in joint statement
  • ”I think we are better-positioned than we ever have been to reach the goal of 55% of emissions and 55 countries by the end of this year, and I think this statement should provide significant additional momentum toward this global push.” – Brian Deese, Obama’s senior energy and climate adviser
  • “Today’s announcement sends another critical signal that key nations are really tackling climate change, and advancing renewable energy. Prime Minister Modi and President Obama have dramatically boosted prospects for a global deal this year to cut the supercharged climate pollutants known as HFCs. Modi also indicated India is moving toward early ratification of the Paris climate pact, showing its continued leadership on climate action.” – Anjali Jaiswal, director of the India Initiative at the Natural Resources Defense Council
  • “With India now on board, a growing chorus of countries are seeking to bring the Paris Agreement into full effect as soon as possible. Early entry into force of this historic agreement will inspire leaders around the world to take action to reduce climate risks and enhance resilience. – Andrew Steer, President and CEO, World Resources Institute

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